Grimsby Town earned their first league win of the season as Luke Waterfall’s added-time header gave them all three points against Rochdale.
The Mariners found themselves under pressure for long periods of the first half as their hosts created some good chances, although they were unable to take any of them.
But it was a different story after the break as Town produced a much stronger performance in attack and looked the more likely to force a winner.
With time running out, it looked like they would have to settle for a share of the spoils but in the second of six added minutes, Waterfall headed home from a corner to send the 1,249 travelling fans home happy
Ryan Taylor and Harry Clifton came back into the Grimsby starting XI as manager Paul Hurst made two changes from the team which began the Carabao Cup victory over Crewe in midweek. Danny Amos and Aribim Pepple were the two to drop out, although both were named on the bench.
Max Crocombe started in goal, with Michee Efete, Waterfall, Andy Smith and Anthony Glennon across the defence. Gavan Holohan, Kieran Green and Bryn Morris were the midfielders, with Stephen Wearne and Clifton pushing up in support of striker Taylor.
Amos and Pepple were joined among the substitutes by Ollie Battersby, Shaun Pearson, Jordan Maguire-Drew, Brendan Kiernan and Jordan Cropper.
Rochdale, managed by former Mariners player Robbie Stockdale, were looking for their first points of the season after losing both of their opening two league games. They also enjoyed cup success in midweek though, with late goals from James Ball and Devante Rodney securing a win against League One Burton Albion.
Ball and Rodney would again be among the ones to watch in the Dale line-up, along with veteran striker Ian Henderson.
The hosts had the first chance of the game on two minutes when a great ball from Rayhaan Tulloch found Femi Seriki on the right. His low cross was sent towards goal by Ball but the midfielder’s effort was inadvertently blocked on the line by Rodney.
More good play by Rochdale led to an opening for Henderson at the far post on five minutes, although his strike from a narrow angle was blocked.
Henderson was involved again five minutes later when he was picked out on the edge of the box after a tricky run down the left by Abraham Odoh. The striker looked to place a shot into the corner of Crocombe’s net but instead, sent the ball wide for a goal kick.
Town were yet to threaten at the quarter-hour mark, with their only opening so far ending with an acrobatic strike from Green flying high and wide.
Rochdale won the afternoon’s first corner on 16 minutes and from it, they produced a well-worked routine which led to a shot from Ben Nelson being blocked at the near post.
The Mariners created an opportunity of their own four minutes later as Holohan crossed for Taylor but the striker’s header was caught by home keeper and former Town loanee Richard O’Donnell.
At the other end, Efete made a good challenge inside the penalty area to deny Rodney and ensure the only damage was a corner, which led to Toumani Diagouraga heading at Crocombe.
The hosts were looking to get the ball wide whenever possible and another chance was created following a chipped ball for Seriki in the right. His cross found its way through a crowd to Odoh at the far post but the left-winger could only divert it wide from a narrow angle.
Soon afterwards, a cross from Glennon on the Town left was cut out and the referee blew for a Rochdale free kick, which proved to be the signal for a drinks break at the midway point of the half.
A great block by Waterfall kept the score goalless after another attack through Seriki on the right had led to a shooting chance. The resulting corner was headed wide at the far post.
Taylor chipped over the bar from 20 yards two minutes before the half-hour, then Clifton was shown the first yellow card of the game for a trip on Diagouraga near the halfway line.
Town’s first corner was won by Taylor on the right soon afterwards and after Glennon’s delivery was not fully cleared, a 20-yard strike from Holohan was deflected wide for another one. This time, a low shot by Holohan was blocked.
Ethan Ebanks-Landell was booked for a foul on Taylor as the striker looked to make progress inside the Rochdale half on 37 minutes. Glennon’s free kick was headed clear, before a powerful volley from Holohan flew just over the bar.
After the hosts dominated the opening quarter of the game, Town had come into it more as half-time approached, although neither goalkeeper had yet been called into serious action.
A foul on Green brought an opportunity for the Mariners to put pressure on the Rochdale goal as the half moved into three added minutes. Glennon’s free kick was headed clear but the visitors kept possession and Morris launched a 25-yard thunderbolt which cannoned back off the bar.
The pressure continued as Town won a corner on the right seconds later but Glennon’s ball to the near post was headed away from danger.
A great run by Seriki was unfairly stopped by Morris as the home side looked to create some danger of their own before the interval. The midfielder was booked and after Ball’s free kick came back off the Grimsby wall, the ball went away for a corner, which was claimed by Crocombe.
That turned out to be the last action of the first half, with the score remaining goalless at the break.
No changes were made before the restart and Town had an opening within seconds as Wearne crossed from the right but Taylor could not get enough power on his header to cause a significant problem.
A free kick came on the edge of the box soon afterwards following a foul on Clifton but Morris could only fire wide of the near post.
Another foul on Clifton brought a free kick on the left four minutes in but before it was taken, Rochdale were forced into a substitution as Nelson went down with an injury. He was replaced by Sam Graham.
Glennon’s free kick was then headed back across goal by Waterfall and a shot from Clifton was saved.
Smith was spoken to by the referee after a foul on Rodney near the halfway line as the game entered a scrappy phase, then the home side’s second change saw Tyrese Sinclair replace Tulloch, just after the midfielder had been booked for a trip on Green. The free kick from Glennon on the left led to Waterfall heading over the bar.
Odoh won a corner on the Rochdale right on 63 minutes but the ball from it was comfortably caught by Crocombe.
Another corner came after a run from Odoh on the left was stopped by Efete. This time, the ball from the flag was headed clear by Morris.
A drinks break was taken at the midway point of the half, then Henderson was caught offside as he ran onto a ball into the left channel.
A great ball from Morris found Clifton on the left on 72 minutes but he was unable to pick out Taylor in the middle, then a home attack led to Crocombe making a good block at his near post.
Kiernan and Amos replaced Wearne and Green three minutes later, with Glennon moving into a more advanced position on the left as Amos slotted into the back four.
A chance came for Town on 77 minutes when a cross from the left fell for Efete but his downward header bounced up for keeper O’Donnell.
The Mariners were almost punished for not taking their opportunity seconds later when Henderson found himself with a shooting chance from the edge of the box at the other end, although he sent the ball over the bar.
Rodney hit a weak shot which Crocombe comfortably got down to stop as Rochdale attacked again with 11 minutes to go.
Town then won a corner through Clifton on the left but Waterfall’s header from it was blocked and the hosts cleared.
Clifton glanced a header wide after meeting a cross from Glennon on the left as the away side looked the more likely to break the deadlock following a much stronger second-half display.
But an opportunity for Rochdale came when Waterfall was penalised for a foul in a dangerous position, 25 yards from his own goal. Sinclair took the free kick but the chance was wasted as he blasted it over the bar.
Pepple was sent on in place of Clifton for the last four minutes and a penalty appeal came when he went down under a challenge inside the box after the game moved into six added minutes. The referee instead pointed for a corner and from it, the Mariners finally had their breakthrough as Glennon’s ball was met at the near post by WATERFALL, who guided a header past O’Donnell and into the net.
Pearson replaced Taylor for the closing stages and Rochdale pushed forward in a bid to rescue a point but as Sinclair hammered the ball over the bar from a last-gasp corner, their final chance had gone and the Town players, staff and supporters were able to celebrate an excellent away win.
The Mariners now return to Blundell Park for their next action, with Carlisle United the visitors on Tuesday night.